Friday, January 06, 2017

Computer coding program helps train and employ Eastern Ky. workers hurt by downturn of coal

A program is teaching Eastern Kentucky residents new skills that could help revive an economy hurt by the downturn in the coal industry, Bill Lucia reports for Route Fifty. TechHire Eastern Kentucky (TEKY) "was designed to give Eastern Kentuckians a shot at learning computer coding and programming skills—languages like JavaScript, Swift and jQuery, for instance. The kind of know-how a person needs to work on software development or mobile applications."

As a bonus, Louisville-based Interapt guarantees that those who finish the four-week course will transition to apprenticeships that could lead to full-time jobs, Lucia writes. "Throughout their time in class and as apprentices participants earn a $400 weekly stipend." Nearly 850 people competed for the first 53 slots. Last week 35 participants graduated from the program. About 200 people are expected to pass through the program in three years.

"TEKY is funded by $4.5 million of mostly federal grant money and falls under a national TechHire initiative, which the Obama administration launched in 2015," Lucia writes. "To develop a custom curriculum, Interapt worked with Eleven Fifty Academy, an Indiana-based nonprofit that concentrates on teaching people coding and programming skills." Ankur Gopal, CEO of Interapt, told Lucia, “You’re not going to come out of this as a Google coder. But you are going to have the skills to build technology solutions that our customers need. And you’re going to be able to build a career."

That's good news in a region that last year had 3,600 coal jobs, down from 14,300 in 2008, Lucia writes. "Coal production in the region fell from around 91 million tons in 2008, to 28 million in 2015. Statewide last October, there were fewer people working at coal mines in Kentucky than at any time since the 1800s." (Read more)

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